The World Of Black Hammer (aka a story of today’s depression)

Since I was a child, books and stories have always been there for me. At times they add joy to my life. At others they are like a life raft–the last line of defense between life and death. I much prefer the former but am grateful for the latter.

Jeff Lemire is my favorite creator in the comic book world. I don’t think he’s objectively the best–his prose is not as polished or sophisticated as Neil Gaiman’s or Alan Moore’s prose and his art-style is very divisive. Indeed, in his self-created titles his art is often criticized for looking rushed, unrealistic and unpolished. Lemire is my favorite because of the heart at the center of his work. His work is, to my mind, like music that is off-center and raw: music that insists on getting thoughts and feelings across despite its technical limitations. Indeed, the limitations somehow add to the experience because it requires more of the listener and/or the reader.

Lemire’s self-created independent graphic novels are these beautifully flawed masterpieces that tell stories about the sorts of people who are so frequently forgotten. Unremarkable people with unremarkable lives. The lonely. The grieving. The broken-hearted. The trapped. The dying. The abandoned. He finds the beauty in their lives and in their surroundings reminding us that there is beauty in even the bleakest of people, times and places

I love Black Hammer but it is not my favorite Jeff Lemire creation (it should be noted here that Lemire serves as the writer but not the artist on this). I choose it as my topic because it shows what Lemire can bring into a world that is not often associated with “heart” and “depth”: the world of superheroes.

Critics who praise the work point out that the world-building is superb. They are correct. They praise the self-awareness that Lemire brings to superhero tropes and the way he uses this awareness to bring warmth rather than cynical satire to the genre. They are right. The only issue I have with this praise (praise that even I have used) is that it speaks only to the choir. Who cares about world-building and self-awareness of superhero tropes if you’re not already a lover of superhero comics? How does this translate to a wider audience? To me the real genius of Black Hammer is the way Lemire subtly brings in elements of his small stories to a grandiose work about superheroes.

There is the martian superhero, Barbalien (yes the funny absurd names are ways of having fun with famous already–existing comic book characters from the big companies DC and Marvel). Barbalien saves lives. He saves worlds. Yawn! That is what superheroes do, right? But it is not his super powers that make him compelling; it is the fact that he is gay. Barbalien was ostracized and shunned on his planet of Mars. He comes to earth hoping to find acceptance only to be shunned again. His story arc is about rejection, alienation and loneliness. Barbalien is an alien regardless of where he chooses to live. But his courage is inspiring–the way he continues to try and create love regardless of what happens to him. His story arc is beautiful because it is about an individual who continues to try find acceptance within himself, undeterred by the lack of acceptance from others.

Randall Weird–a NASA astronaut that, by falling into the “Parazone” ends up seeing the pattern of all things past, present and future. My non-comic book reader rolls their eyes about the Parazone and the sci-fi space travel stuff. That’s okay because, once again, his superhero arc is far less important than his backstory and the burden he carries upon him. Bullied as a child (once again Lemire has fun with his name since he was indeed considered a “weirdo”) and misunderstood by his fellow heroes, Weird is a deeply lonely man. He utters abstract and nonsensical things because he can see what no others see. He is the perfect metaphor for the mentally ill; for the people we avoid because they make us feel uncomfortable. Lemire, however, allows us to see how burdensome it is for Weird to carry all of the knowledge he has. We watch Weird carry the weight of the world on his shoulders not because supervillains abound but because he sees the bigger picture. Weird flits between times and worlds often finding himself lost. He is misunderstood and called a coward because he often flees the traditional superhero-supervillain battle in order to deal with the greater cosmic issue that lie beneath the surface. He cares deeply for his fellow heroes even thought he is teased by them and ridiculed by them. He is…a beautiful, fragile and misunderstood man.

I will not go through every character. I have bored my reader enough. I wish merely to show how much depth Lemire can bring to a genre that often lacks it; a genre that has been watered down by countless movie adaptations and CGI effects. A genre that one could argue has become a sort of blight on society.

One might point out that Lemire is hardly the first creator to bring metaphor and depth into the comic book world. The X-Men, for example, are popular in part because they represent the outsider as well: the disabled, people of color, etc. But even the brilliant X-Men titles are held hostage by the fact that they are part of a sixty-year major label franchise that can only take so many risks before being wrangled in by the constraints of capitalism. Since Black Hammer is a self-created smaller label work Lemire can go to places that even the most brilliant writers of X-Men aren’t allowed to go.

I don’t know what the point of this essay was. You see earlier I was sitting on my couch, burdened by a numb depression. I read about Colonel Weird and I began to cry. I remembered how often Lemire’s work helps me cry; helps me feel something. And I realized that this gift he has means a lot to me. Even more than Grant Morrison’s mind-bending creative genius and Alan Moore’s harsh cynical brilliance and Neil Gaiman’s unprecedented epic world building. Lemire writes stories about me and for me. I don’t mean that to sound narcissistic. I mean, I know he’s not writing for ME, it is that it FEELS like he is. I didn’t expect to feel so much while reading this title. I expected to be entertained by a mildly intelligent and warm homage to the comic book world. And instead I found myself, once again, reading literature that kept me company and helped me feel seen. And the best thing of all is that when I am in a healthier state of mind then Colonel Weird and Barbalien and company make me laugh and smile because they are also fun and absurd and….well, they’re funny as hell too.

That’s it. That’s the genius. These characters who can make me laugh and cry and feel understood when I’m suicidal and bring joy when I’m happy and…these are people who have been brought into my life by Lemire. It’s not the first time and I doubt it will be the last.

So maybe what this is…maybe it’s my love letter to Jeff Lemire. Who knows, maybe I’ll print it out and give it to him if he ever does a signing in my area. On second thought, I don’t want him to think I’m some creepy stalker so…this will forever be the unsent love letter to Jeff Lemire.

I feel an intense sadness as I approach the end of The Sandman. No, it is more than sadness, it is grief. I wish to hold on for dear life to those characters. To that universe. To the stories. Stories that allowed me to travel through different ideas, emotions and worlds. I don’t know that life would have meaning if it didn’t end. I don’t know that books or stories would either. But that doesn’t change the fact that endings can hurt.

There is a heavy feeling in my chest. And yet I also feel there something harder to describe. What is it? I can only describe aspects of it: a sense of awe and wonder; a desire to share side-by-side with a desire to hide; the dread of resuming my life without Dream, Death, Delirium, Destruction, Destiny and Despair (that last bit reads rather absurdly given my status as a human being).

I discovered books and reading at a very early age. It is rather a miracle given that my grandparents spoke Spanish and that I was not read to. Families have their own stories—little mythologies. The story my grandparents told was that my desperate need to learn about dinosaurs somehow gave me the power to make sense of the words. I don’t know that this could possibly be true in any logical sense, but to quote Dream, “Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes…” The fact is probably that I had some genetic talent for words (certainly not math!) and that my visiting relatives read just enough to me to help me cultivate that gift. But my family chose the story that will endure: the story of a lonely boy who needed so desperately to go off into other worlds that he willed himself to it. That one is sad and lovely and sweet and inspiring and, just as importantly, shared by others who found refuge in their imaginations. It helps explain things in a way that feels more meaningful. And that is part of what good stories do: help us make sense of ourselves and the human condition in ways that captivate.

The Sandman is a tale about tales. It was written for me and for anyone who understands how important stories are, even the ones that are never shared or written down. I feel like I’m about to lose something. And I’m not sure if I am writing with any purpose other than to put off the inevitable fact that this book I cherish so deeply is about to end.

And yet…it won’t will it? I will carry it within. Others will carry it as well. And the books will be borrowed and bought and shared and the stories will live on after I am gone. Saying that does not remove the grief, but it somehow puts it in a warmer place.

Gentefied (on Netflix)

As with most things I write in relation to the arts, this is not intended to be a review or a critique. Though I may be speaking as an adult, beneath it all there is a happy child who is asking the adult to express his joy for him. I will try not to fail him. However, I will also speak for the adult.

Gentefied is by no means a perfect show. It is, however, a show with so much heart that it moves me to that place where smiles and tears live together as friends. The show feels like home. It reminds me of my grandparents and my life growing up with them. It reminds me of how my Latinx clients (especially my Mexican or Mexican-American ones) and I slide between English and Spanish (“Spanglish” for “pochos”); how certain words are cozier or simply mean more in your first language (even if you’re comfortable with your second one). I did not grow up in a lower socio-economic neighborhood (that is one difference) but my extended family did, and weekend visits to them were the only vacations my family ever took (literally EVER took). Everything feels familiar.

There are so many ways to sum up a show, all of them imperfect. But I think one of the things that stands out for me is the way it focuses on how a Mexican family tries to survive a world in which they have no say in the rules–not even within their own community. They are put into a position where they have to adapt to survive but to adapt often means giving something up that they hold close to their hearts: an ideal; a value; a piece of their cultural identity. The taqueria at the center of the show works as the center piece for this. Their traditional Mexican food and their lower socio-economic clientele can’t cover the increasing rent prices as the neighborhood grows increasingly gentrified. It is not just the restaurant that is being threatened: it is their legacy, their values, the way the restaurant is a hub for the local community. What does one do with this? Turn the taqueria into a hipster fusion joint with higher prices? Maybe. But what does that mean for one’s identity? How would it make one feel to suddenly price out your friends and family and community? All of these are tied to a bigger question: What does it mean to be a “true Mexican” in this country? These are the nuanced questions the show deals with even if on the surface it seems like a cozy and simple show.

In terms of representation this might be the most important show that has ever been created about Mexicans and Mexican-Americans because it is not trauma-centered. Historically a show or film that has Mexicans at its center is going to focus on the brutality of their community, on crime or imprisonment–on how hard it is to stay on the “right path” in a world that disdains you. It is as though our pain is the only thing deemed interesting to the wider community. These stories are important. I have nothing against them. But it’s also important to see Mexicans represented like everyone else: decent folk doing their best with their day-to-day lives. The focus here isn’t on gangs or crime but rather on lovely but imperfect restaurant owners and artists and chefs and musicians, etc.

When the character Erik is first introduced, my own internalized racism arose: I thought he was going to fall into the role of the Mexican-American young adult who is respectful at home but is involved in shady shit on the side. He speaks with an edge. He has tattoos everywhere. Instead Erik ends up being a sensitive, intelligent kid who stayed out of trouble by staying close to family and becoming an avid reader. He ends up creating a reading library at the restaurant: a horrible business plan to be sure, but a heart expanding reminder that this hard-on-the-outside young man cares deeply about the children in his community. Chris is the character who is often teased for being “white-washed”–his dreams involve going to Paris to become a chef. He is more traditionally handsome. He is college-educated. He is the readiest to adapt and change–to eschew some of the traditional values for Americanized capitalist ones. But look closely and you will see his internal struggle: his awareness that he holds privilege over many of the other Mexicans in his life and how that puts him in a lonely limbo: teased by the Mexicans and rejected by the whites (this character most closely resembles my own experiences with my culture growing up). Then there’s Ana: the lesbian artist who is torn between staying true to her roots while realizing that the only way she might make a living is to be exploited by white hipsters who want to show their progressiveness through their investment in her. It is not just that the show is not trauma-centered, it is how matter-of-factly it shows these characters as they are. In other words, even their path to where they have ended up is not part of the narrative. These are not “the special Mexicans” that stayed out of trouble. They are an actual representation of MOST MEXICANS.

Just because the show is cozy in many ways does not mean that our community is presented in an idealized or perfect way. Issues like the homophobia and anti-blackness in the Mexican community are right there alongside the values that are beautiful. These are the ways that our community needs to evolve and grow, not to survive the majority culture, but to improve itself.

I promised I would speak for the kid and not just the adult. The kid feels relaxed. He pretends that the grandpa on the show is his grandpa. Because the show is not trauma focused it helps him remember the good things about his childhood and not all of the painful ones. It also gives him an opportunity to feel proud of his Mexican-ness (something he struggled with in his actual life), to look back with pride. The kid watches enraptured with his dinosaur toys alongside of him and a smile on his face.

If you are not Mexican or Mexican-American this show will probably not feel as cozy or speak to the kid in you. It may, however, show you the beautiful and challenging sides of Mexican culture. It may (I hope) give you an appreciation for it. It may, if you are honest with yourself, allow you to look at your internalized prejudices. But I also hope it allows you to identify with people different from you. One of the paradoxes of looking at our differences with an open heart is that it somehow brings us to a grounded sense of our commonalities (that paradox has proven true for me time and time again). I hope it forces you to look at what how the USA’s version of capitalism is broken and how the “American dream” is a load of bullshit.

Okay, I lied: this is a review. The kid in me gives his verdict: Yay!!!! There it is, this show gets a “yay”. What more do you need to watch it?

I wanted to do one half-way decent thing. Nothing that deserves a fucking medal or anything…just something that isn’t selfish. So I reached out to the woman I had been talking to from the dating site–the one I hadn’t reached back out to for the last two days. I know the last person had ditched her at a restaurant–had told her he was going to the restroom and then disappeared. I know this hurt her. I was feeling heavy and guilty about my inability to reach out but was scared to tell someone I had just met that I’m broken as all fuck.

I decided to tell her this morning. I made it clear that my (over)share(?) was not so that she would help me, it was because I wanted her to know that I was in a bad depression and that when I started speaking to her I thought I had turned a corner but I was now afraid I had not. I told her I knew that seeing me involved her getting a babysitter and I didn’t want to put her out since I was likely to cancel. I told her that I was not ditching her, that I could barely speak to anyone in my own life and that it had nothing to do with her. I didn’t expect a response. I just hoped she could let it in that none of it was her fault. It may not be my job to heal her insecurities but it seemed a decent thing not to contribute to them. Then she responded:

Hi X. Thank you so much for thinking of my feelings and reaching out, you have no idea how appreciated that is. And don’t worry about oversharing. It would be no more oversharing for you to say you were sick in bed with the flu. I struggle with depression too. So I do understand. I’m still here if you want to start talking again. *heart emoji*

I’m not sure if we’ll speak again. But it felt nice that two relative strangers were considerate and sweet about the feelings of the other. It felt nice to be reminded that there are others out there who don’t see depression as a plague. I want to feel better so badly. I hope it’s enough that I could do one thing that made me feel slightly less ashamed.

I’ve spent 24 of my last 48 hours in bed. I’ve been useless to my friends, probably even disappointing. I haven’t exercised. I have canceled two work sessions (and more may be coming). I haven’t returned professional or personal calls. I ate too much last night despite the lack of exercise. I keep getting food delivered despite it being expensive and unhealthy because the half-a-block to the supermarket seems just a bit too far. My heart begins to beat quickly when I see that I may have to respond to a text or email or when I pick up the phone to reach out. Panic begins. People represent danger.

It’s hard not to judge myself when I know I can’t do the “right thing” in so many different areas at once. It spins me into shame which, in turn, only makes it even harder to try.

It’s the fucking helplessness. It’s the watching yourself struggle to get yourself in to the bathroom to take a piss. It’s the way you sit on the couch with your blood sugar low, feeling dizzy but the idea of even going to the bedroom to order the food on the computer feels like a journey to another city. It’s the stories in your head–imagining everyone’s disappointed face. It’s the imposter syndrome as you try to help people when you know you’re so fucked up that your smelly trash has been at the door since Sunday night. And you know you could have taken it out last night when you were forced to head to your car but the extra 25 yards to the trash bin seemed like too much. It’s the way that you feel like you deserve to have smelly trash at your door.

When I’m happy each day feels like a few seconds. When I’m in a place like this each second feels like a year. It’s like a prison. And I wish I could end this entry with something hopeful. I even feel guilty for sharing the bleakness without hope. But maybe that will come in another entry. Hopefully tomorrow. Maybe in a month or two. I don’t know. I just know that it will FEEL like a long time.

Many of us have our dark places. Those shadowy places in our heads where we get stuck fighting the demons inside. This is what mine is like…

I feel helpless. Dependent. I can’t get out of bed. I find it hard to feed myself. I yearn for a fatherly and/or motherly presence in the sky to step in and hold me in their blessed hands. But…I know that what I most yearn for is what I least need. That it would simply enable the helplessness. And so the battle inside is between the part of me what wishes to be saved and the part of me that knows only I can do it. The paradox of it all is that the latter is hard because…well, it’s hard to breath much less do the work.

I feel like a time traveler who isn’t in control of his time travel machine; who is in different times and places all at once. I feel like I’m in the cradle. I feel like I’m waiting on the porch for my father. I feel like I’m facing every traumatic moment in my whole life at once. My mind says, “You’re okay. You are in a relatively good place in your life. Things are actually okay.” My nervous system says, “Danger! Danger! Hide! Run!”

I feel empty. I feel like I want to devour everything and everyone which terrifies me and, conversely, makes me want to avoid everyone. I’d like to say this was selfless. And certainly, there is a bit of a selfless component. But a big chunk of it is just survival. I know how the hungry ghost comes across to others. Hell, I know how I respond to hungry ghosts!

I feel so lonely. From this place it’s hard to take anything in; so the loneliness isn’t about not having anyone, it’s about knowing that it’s hard to feel it. And the harder I try to feel it, the further I get.

I start to feel ashamed and guilty. I tell myself that I’m a bad everything. I feel like I’m falling short in my duties as…everything.

That’s the thing with my dark place. Trying hard doesn’t work. A lot of people think mental illness is a weakness of will. It’s not. I have a strong will. Stubborn even. I fight and I fight and I fight but it seems to make things worse. Yet it’s hard to “let go”; to “give in”. I think it’s a bit like quicksand. The instinct is to flail and fight to get myself out, but it only makes me sink.

So here I am. I think I have a map. The map that will help me get back home. But it looks like such a long and painful journey and I feel so….weak. Maybe it’s okay to crawl home. The way I crawl from the gym to my car (metaphorically speaking). I don’t know. I just know that it’s hard and that I haven’t any choice.

The Raincoats

It feels almost taboo to listen to The Raincoats. They sing in forbidden voices. Their beats, for reasons I cannot articulate but that I can feel in my belly, are created by and for women. The guitars and strings are adventurous. No, that is not quite right; rather, they take the listener on an adventure. And lastly, and once again for reasons I cannot articulate (I worry that my readers will get sick of hearing me say that but it is difficult to translate the inner experience of sounds to words!), they make me feel like I’m listening in on them rather than listening to them.

Indeed, I imagine them playing for themselves and a few friends in the living room of an old house while I lie alone in the attic, ear pressed to the floorboards, taking in every second of the odd, heartfelt, unfettered, gorgeous wildness of their music. I shouldn’t be allowed to listen. I’m halfway ashamed but I can’t help myself. I listen. I listen breathlessly. Gratefully. Happily. With tears streaming down my cheeks.

Part of what makes The Raincoats so extraordinary is that they are in some ways so ordinary. None of them possess any sort of technical mastery over their instruments. They sound primitive. They are free from the pressure of playing things “the right way”. They are free from the male posturing that inevitably impacts the sound of so much music. That is it: freedom. Their lack of technical knowledge allows them a broader palate; it gives the music an extraordinary purity. The ordinariness gives birth to something extraordinary.

(It is funny. The Raincoats make me think of a close friend who I don’t think would even like their music. Someone who I believe, in many ways, belongs to the wilderness. Who I can so easily imagine running through the trees barefoot while howling wildly. Someone who, when she dances, dances to her own rhythms.)

We can wax poetic about music and yet, at the end of the day, I know that music is something quite visceral. It moves you or it doesn’t. Yet it is so human to want to communicate our joy and passion. Our pain and sadness. So maybe this is my way of doing that today. My way of sharing with those I love passionately something I love passionately.

————————–

A beauty only loved at night
At daytime a face full of marks
Her eyes have been in flames all night
The sun won’t have eyes for her again
Only loved at night, the lady in the dark

Knew the size of tall buildings
How dear a day-kiss could be
Those buildings that saw all the airplanes
That kissed the air in vain fantasy
Only loved at night, the lady in the dark

Didn’t her eyes reflect all of this?
Why couldn’t they look into her eyes?
Didn’t each night love her another time?
Male nights and sometimes female

Boys loved her at night
Girls loved her in the dark

“Watch her slowly die
Saw it in her eyes
Choking on a bed”

“Words cannot express/Words are useless”

–Public Image Limited, “Death Disco” (aka “Swan Lake”)

One of the greatest gifts that rock/pop music has given me is an appreciation for the way words and sounds can express unspeakable and taboo thoughts and feelings. In the passage above John Lydon howls with harrowing intensity about watching his mother die of cancer. The cold metallic textures of the guitars create the sound of hopeless despair while the trance-like bass and drums ground things so deeply into the ground that it brings to my mind the image of a coffin being buried in the soil.

This is not pleasant. It is not an easy song to which to listen. For many it may even seem masochistic to subject oneself to something that sounds so unhinged. I, for one, find it beautiful. The song has accompanied me for more than two decades of my life. I return to it multiple times a year.

If you’re lucky (and I am indeed lucky) you have a few people in your life with whom you can talk about anything, including those dark and heavy thoughts, feelings and memories that haunt us and that which many people have no desire to hear. I have people in my life who are so deep and expansive that almost nothing is taboo. But every once in a while I remember the moment my grandmother called out to me in the wee hours of the morning. I have no idea how long she had been calling out for me. I only know that I ran to her bedside, that she was choking and that I dialed emergency services. I watched her lips turn blue. I froze. I didn’t deliver CPR. I didn’t do anything. In fact, I don’t remember how I passed the time until the firetruck arrived. I just remember that she was suddenly lying on the living room floor as they tried to resuscitate her. She never recovered consciousness. Family came from everywhere. The hospital was flooded with extended family. This is all a blur. The only thing I remember with clarity was weighing in on the fact that we should pull the plug. I remember saying goodbye to her. I remember a nurse brushing her hair: a memory that still fills my heart with the unspeakable beauty of humanity.

I digress. Or perhaps I do. I have lost track of my original intention. Give me a moment…

Despite the moments of love and beauty, watching my grandmother die, remembering my own helplessness…it’s lonely and painful. It was harrowing. And sometimes to feel understood I need something that can mirror this. No matter how many wonderful people I have in my life, it is an experience I went through alone. As John Lydon sings in the closing moments, “Words cannot express/words are useless”. I was the one there at that moment. I was the one to whom she cried out to save her. And perhaps I was the one who failed her. When I hear this song I feel accompanied in that memory. Nothing is sugarcoated. I am given permission to freely feel the naked raw emotions. There was nothing beautiful in that moment. And, on the surface of things, there is nothing beautiful about the song. But that’s what makes the song so beautiful to me: it is real, primal and, therefore, perfect in the way it captures an aspect of human experience about which many, unfortunately, do not wish to talk about or feel.

At first glance this may sound elitist or snobby, but I assure my readers that I am coming from a purer place than that when I say: we need art that is challenging; art that may at first glance seem unbecoming or awful. Or at least I do. Though it was never something I gave thought to when I was younger and discovering such music, I believe my experiences with art like this is partly what has given me the gift of finding beauty in the unconventional and the mundane. There is some beauty that you have to sit with to discover; that requires mental and emotional investment. Art that doesn’t come wrapped in a sweet and tidy package. (To be clear I also love music that is melodic and more instantly appealing. I just don’t limit myself to that.)

I doubt my readers will do it but I cannot help but hope that they might listen to the song. And just when they decide it is an irredeemable piece of noise to stay with it. Maybe to even wonder what it is that is so frightening or unpleasant. And if not, that’s okay as well. I just wanted to share my love for something that I think is beautiful even if painful and difficult.

The worst things about my depression…

It can sneak up on me. I can wake up one morning and it is there lying on top of me, pushing down on my chest with its leaden hands. It is as though it crawled into my bed uninvited while I slept. It is a violation of my body and mind.

It keeps me from taking care of myself. My blood sugar is low and my fridge is empty. The supermarket is 300 yards away from my apartment but it may as well be three cities over. And of course that makes sense since I also need a shower and my bathroom feels as though it is unreachable. The front door feels like a threshold that is impossible to pass. Through its awful grin it mocks me, “Thou shall remain hungry, dirty and inert!”

It is a cold, foggy, vast and uninhabitable moorland. A lonely place. It separates me from myself and others.

But the worst thing of all…It is not the sadness. It is not even the pain. It is the way it keeps me from living. It is the helplessness I feel as it wastes precious time. So much time….wasted.

Getting the random thoughts out so that I won’t feel lonely or trapped in my head…

It’s hard to have an open heart when you feel sad and lonely. I think it’s why I have been crying on an off for…god, I think it’s been about 3.5 days. There aren’t always sad thoughts preceding the tears; they often come the way hunger does–like an involuntary bodily function. Today I woke up and within a minute I had tears in my eyes. I got plenty of sleep. I went to bed with a relatively warm and happy mindset and yet my eyes were moist again.

I think I’m grieving. Only I don’t think it’s the sort of grief everyone would understand. There have been no recent deaths or breakups. Just changes in all of my relationships over the past few years. Good changes. Or rather, changes representing positive things in the lives of my loved ones. And I’m happy for them while at the same time feeling a bit sad for myself. Right now it doesn’t feel like self-pity. Though I cannot deny at times falling into self-pity, right now I just feel sad. I suppose the difference is that I don’t feel like a victim in any way. I just feel…like I need to find a way to create more of something.

*

I wonder how life would be if we didn’t have walls up. If there were no “isms” or violence or trauma. I like to imagine that people would walk around with open hearts and that their faces would be windows rather than masks. In a world where nobody has been deeply wounded, there would no reason to hide one’s joyful smiles or one’s sweet sad tears. Strangers would high five and hug one another. People would console one another. Nobody would be hungry because without trauma I don’t believe there would be so much greed. Nobody could bear to watch a fellow human starve. Friends would be made left and right. There would be a sense of community wherever you turned. I think that is my little fantasy. My little vision of utopia. If it is naive then so be it–that’s why it’s a fantasy.

*

Sometimes I impress myself. I realize how much I am able to do despite all of my mental health stuff. These tears have not stopped me from doing a decent job at work. They haven’t stopped me from exercising or keeping my apartment clean. They haven’t stopped me from keeping up on paperwork, hygiene or finances. I don’t think it’s easy to do so much alone even without mental health issues. I am an everyday hero (among millions upon millions of others, of course).

*

I realize that both depression and sadness make me want the same thing: to stay under a blanket and watch films and read. The difference is that when I’m sad I derive satisfaction from the blanket and the reading whereas when I’m depressed it doesn’t feel like a choice. I suppose the other difference is that when I’m sad others are, theoretically speaking, welcome to share the warmth of the blanket whereas when I’m depressed it is harder to make room for that.

*

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. I not only told him I loved him but I told him that he’s a “good dad”. I have never told him that. I don’t know why I said it when it’s only one slice of the truth (by that I only mean that none of us are only one thing). I think I have become more aware of his mortality. I know that he will not be around forever and I don’t want him to focus on the ways he neglected me growing up. He once shared his pain about this (a good 15 years ago I think) and I want him to let it go. I want him to feel lighter. To feel less regret. I also thanked him for supporting me in all the ways that he does to which he said, “I’ll always have your back”. I think my dad is very very sweet in his own way. Needless to say when I got off the phone I collapsed into tears. Not bad tears. I was just…moved. I think it’s going to be really hard to lose him. I think when I lost my grandparents my walls were higher with them. My walls aren’t that high with my dad. And I know that’s a good thing but…yeah, it’s going to hurt.

*

I’m crying right now. I almost want to laugh at myself (not in a mean way). I am a walking, talking crying machine.